Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Friday, October 24, 2014

MCPP Reports

New A-F Grades for 2011-2012

Untitled Document

A-F Grades

Click here to see the new 2011-2012 grades for Mississippi school districts.

Click here to download a map showing each district's A-F grades.


Fact Check: A-F Ratings

CLAIM: The new A-F ratings are tougher than the old system.
FACT: The new A-F system changed nothing except the labels. "Star" became A, "High Performing" became B, "Successful" changed to C, "Academic Watch" changed to D, and "Low Performing," "At Risk of Failing," and "Failing" are all now F. In fact, it was easier to achieve A or B this year because low graduation rates were not counted against districts or high schools, unlike previous years.

CLAIM: Our A and B schools can compete with schools anywhere in America.
FACT: A few of our schools can, but most can't -- at least judging by test scores. Only five of Mississippi's 152 school districts have ACT scores that are above the national average. Just 11% of Mississippi students are ready for college by the time they graduate -- and only 2% of African-American students will be ready for college.
The state Board of Education voted in 2009 to raise Mississippi's "cut scores" (the QDI scores necessary to earn an A, B, or C) each year until 2013 so that our standards would be on par with other states. But every year since 2009, the Board of Education has decided not to raise those cut scores. We are falling further behind other states each year.

CLAIM: These labels misrepresent how our schools are really doing.
FACT: The new A-F labels were created to give parents a clearer understanding of their schools' ratings. Under the old system, parents had to decipher whether "Academic Watch" or "Low Performing" was worse. The new A-F system is easily understood by everyone: a C is better than a D, but there's room to improve to B or even A.

CLAIM: Not including graduation rates is fair while MDE works out a better way to measure them.
FACT: Under the previous system, A (Star) districts and schools had to have a graduation rate of at least 80 percent while B districts and schools had to have a graduation rate of at least 75 percent. "A" districts and schools with a low graduation rate earned a B, while B districts and schools with a low graduation rate earned a C. Ratings for C, D, and F districts and schools did not include graduation rates. Instead of applying the graduation rate requirement to all districts, the Board of Education dispensed with the requirement altogether -- sending the message that graduation rates don't matter. The change in the ratings formula enabled 10 C districts and 26 high schools to move up to a B.



Facts and Analysis



The Effect of Omitting Graduation Rates

Which B districts would have been rated C if graduation rates were counted?

District
Grad Rate
Forrest AHS
64.1%
Scott County
67.7%
George County
70.5%
Lauderdale County
71.9%
Petal
72.0%
Grenada
72.2%
Itawamba County
72.3%
Tupelo
72.4%
Lowndes County
73.1%
Alcorn
73.3%


Dropout Districts

Below are districts with a five-year graduation rate of 60% or less:

District
Grad Rate
Rating
West Tallahatchie
48.4%
D
Durant
49.2%
F
Tunica
50.0%
D
Okolona Separate
51.7%
F
Greenville
52.4%
D
Natchez-Adams
53.0%
F
Amite
54.3%
D
Canton
56.4%
F
Vicksburg-Warren
57.5%
C
Yazoo City
57.5%
F
Chickasaw County
57.7%
C
East Tallahatchie
57.8%
D
North Bolivar
57.9%
D
Water Valley
57.9%
D
McComb
58.3%
C
Oktibbeha
59.0%
D
Laurel
59.3%
C
Franklin
59.5%
C


Does More Money Help?

Of the 20 F districts, 17 spent more than the state average of $8,752.06 per student. Only three spent less: Canton ($8,539.95), Durant ($8,433.99), and Walthall ($8,598.03).

How did the ten districts with the highest and lowest spending (per pupil) do compared to each other?


Highest Spending
Lowest Spending
A
1
1
B
3
6
C
2
1
D
3
2
F
1
0


Who Do Failing Districts Hurt Most?

Mississippi's African-American students are disproportionately impacted by F districts:

  • 3 districts rated F are 100% African-American

  • 17 districts rated F are more than 90% African-American

  • All districts rated F are majority African-American



Can My District Replicate 'A' District Success?

Districts rated 'A' face similar challenges to districts throughout Mississippi, and they should be models for improving education for low-income and minority students in Mississippi:

  • Pass Christian has a majority of students below the poverty line.

  • Clinton has a majority of African-American students.

  • Clinton and Enterprise spend less per student than the state average. Clinton spent $893.10 less than the state average and Enterprise spent $1,343.76 less.

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